It has proven challenging to quantify ‘drug input’ from a formulation to the viable skin because the epidermal and dermal targets of topically applied drugs are difficult, if not impossible, to access in vivo. Defining the drug input function to the viable skin with a straightforward and practical experimental approach would enable a key component of dermal pharmacokinetics to be characterised. It has been hypothesised that measuring drug uptake into and clearance from the stratum corneum (SC) by tape-stripping allows estimation of a topical drug’s input function into the viable tissue. This study aimed to test this idea by determining the input of nicotine and lidocaine into the viable skin, following application of commercialised transdermal patches to healthy human volunteers. The known input rates of these delivery systems were used to validate and assess the results from the tape-stripping protocol. The drug input rates from in vivo tape-stripping agreed well with the claimed delivery rates of the patches. The experimental approach was then used to determine the input of lidocaine from a marketed cream, a typical topical product for which the amount of drug absorbed has not been well-characterised. A significantly higher delivery of lidocaine from the cream than from the patch was found. The different input rates between drugs and formulations in vivo were confirmed qualitatively and quantitatively in vitro in conventional diffusion cells using dermatomed abdominal pig skin.
Original languageEnglish
Article number49 (2021)
JournalAAPS Journal
Early online date29 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021


  • topical drug delivery
  • transdermal delivery systems
  • stratum corneum sampling
  • in vitro skin permeation
  • dermal pharmacokinetics


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